The Top Databases of RIAs and How to Get the Most Out of Them

At Dakota we have been raising capital within the RIA space since 1997 and have raised over $9 billion. Let’s be clear, RIAs are a tough channel to sell into because of its vastness. If killing elephants would be akin to winning a model allocation at a Bank or Broker-Dealer, killing squirrels would be akin to winning in RIAs. 

In this article, we dive into the challenges of penetrating the RIA space as well as the sales process any fundraiser needs to use in order to face these challenges. By the end of this you’ll have a better understanding of the issues many face when approaching the RIA space and the databases that can help you implement our recommended sales process. 

The RIA space is an astounding channel to sell into since the level of openness to new ideas and the threshold of sophistication knows no bounds. RIA firms are always looking for new and interesting investment ideas, making them the holy grail for any money manager. 

If it’s the holy grail, what makes the RIA space such a challenge relative to other channels like Banks, Consultants, Broker-Dealers or Wirehouses?

  1. There is no top-down approval. Each RIA needs to do full due diligence on each individual strategy they invest in.
  2. Going back to the squirrel concept, RIAs are spread out all over the country requiring a lot of travel.
  3. Traditionally, most databases of RIAs don’t fully distinguish between RIAs that are money managers and those that are wealth managers. This makes the research process for who to call on very time consuming. You’ll need to pare down 20,000+ RIAs to the ones that matter. 
  4. In the past 5 years many private fund managers have wanted to access the RIA space, but only have an LP to offer, not a mutual fund, separate account or ETF as product wrappers. This makes the need to understand which RIAs invest in LPs absolutely paramount.

So what is the solution? You need to find the answers to these three things, and then apply the sales process we swear by below: What RIAs are wealth managers?, What RIAs invest in my asset class?, and What RIAs invest heavily in LPs if you only have an LP?

The Sales Process

The approach we recommend to both our customers and ourselves at Dakota is not complicated, although it requires an intense, consistent application of a sales process.

You’ll need two things to efficiently attack the RIA space: 1) a curated database of RIAs who invest in outside managers; and 2) City Scheduling. Having the proper database will save you an insane amount of research time, and it will also result in an easier attempt at city scheduling. With that, let’s get into city scheduling. 

City Scheduling

50% of the RIAs in the US are in the top 12 Metro Areas. Step one is to pick 5 of those Metro Areas for any given date and send email meeting requests for 9:00am, 11:00am, 1:00pm, 3:00pm and 4:30pm. When one Metro drops, add another.

Step two is to remove the top 12 Metro Areas and run a report of the remaining largest RIAs and pick those Metros to schedule face to face meetings via email meeting requests.

That is it! A curated database and a consistent sales process that results in many face to face meetings. Apply this process consistently, and with a good product, results should come over time. Unfortunately, it can take time. Be patient and consistent. Below we’ve suggested four databases, so you can decide which is the best fit for you.

Curated Databases

These are the databases the investment community has to choose from when cold prospecting the RIA space with the sales process above.

  • Discovery Data: helps companies grow their business in the financial services and insurance industries. They provide detailed profiles on 40,000 firms and over two million professionals.
  • Dakota Marketplace RIAs: Trusted by over 800 investment firms, Dakota's database of RIAs includes a curated list of 2,500+ RIAs and over 5,000 Broker Dealer teams that are confirmed to use outside managers with over 100+ investment preferences. Dakota's database of RIAs is the only database built by a fundraising team for fundraising teams.

To explore the vast RIAs housed in Dakota Marketplace, we'd love to offer a free trial of the platform.

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Written By: Gui Costin, Founder, CEO

Gui Costin is the Founder and CEO of Dakota.